Are We Ready For A Radically Different Luke Skywalker In Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

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Rey (Daisy Ridley) handing a lightsaber to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'
Rey (Daisy Ridley) handing a lightsaber to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Disney

Speaking with Variety at The Tonys, Mark Hamill described how Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer and director Rian Johnson may radically change our perception of Luke Skywalker in his upcoming Episode VIII, sequel to 2015’s The Force Awakens.

“Rian Johnson is an amazing filmmaker. And if you look at Brick or Brothers Bloom or Looper, each film is different from the last one and they’re so inventive. I think people will be really pleased and surprised. I know I was. I got into trouble because I was quoted as saying to Rian, ‘I fundamentally disagree with everything you decided about Luke.’ It was inartfully phrased. What I was was surprised at how he saw Luke. And it took me awhile to get around to his way of thinking, but once I was there it was a thrilling experience.”

Here’s that quote, the one Hamill says got him “into trouble”:

“I at one point had to say to Rian, ‘I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.”

There’s no real telling what this means for Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi, since we’re missing both of the comparison points — we know neither how Hamill sees his character or how Johnson will portray the last living Jedi Master. It could be that it’s Hamill’s interpretation that is radically different and Johnson’s that is staid. But it seems more likely that The Last Jedi will swing in the other direction. We’ve already had a brief glimpse of that in the first Last Jedi trailer, which ends on Luke’s intention to bring an end to the Jedi Order. That sure doesn’t sound like the Luke Skywalker we know from the Star Wars Original Trilogy. Instead, Johnson may present to us a radically different evolution of Luke Skywalker than fans may expect, or even want.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens had great new characters and the pacing of a horse race, but was cautious to a fault, largely rehashing plot points from past Star Wars movies and introducing a new conflict, this time between the Resistance and the First Order, that feels suspiciously like the old conflict, just with a fresh layer of paint. Disney’s second Star Wars movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story , had a similar level of polish and a similar dearth of new ideas, filling in cracks in the original Star Wars’ backstory, rather than attempting something new. And while both movies were a success, financially and with fans, there’s widespread anticipation and hope that the Rian Johnson-directed Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi can take the series in unexpected new directions.

And Johnson has promised just that:

But fickle fandoms often object even more loudly to change than they do things staying the same. What if, for example, Luke Skywalker succeeds in bringing an end to the Jedi — will there be a fan backlash? Or, what if Luke has become a huge asshole? Will we freak out if The Last Jedi takes the character in an interesting direction that thwarts the simple hero narrative that guided Luke throughout the original Star Wars trilogy?

There’s a reason studio franchise films are so doggedly cautious. It has, in part, to do with the generic storytelling required to appeal to the entire world population, a necessity in the era of the international blockbuster. But it also has to do with fandom’s over-protective guarding of beloved characters. Both fans and studios are afraid of change. Rian Johnson may just give it to us anyway.

Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi comes out in theaters Dec. 15

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